Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 17:47 UK

'Planes plotter' bought chemicals

Assad Sarwar
Assad Sarwar admitted using a false name to buy hydrogen peroxide

A man accused of being part of a plot to blow up passenger planes flying from the UK has admitted buying and hiding materials to make an explosive device.

Assad Sarwar, 25, told Woolwich Crown Court the device would have had the "hallmark of an al-Qaeda attack".

But he said it would have represented a protest against Western foreign policy and would not have hurt anyone.

Mr Sarwar, from High Wycombe, Bucks, is one of eight men who deny a plot to blow up transatlantic flights in 2006.

Prosecutors allege the men planned to make hydrogen peroxide bombs disguised as soft drinks to detonate in mid-air on at least seven planes flying out of London's Heathrow airport.

But the alleged leader of the plot Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 27, of Walthamstow, east London, has told the court that the men merely wanted to set off a harmless explosion as a "publicity stunt".

And Mr Sarwar told the jury that the use of hydrogen peroxide in their device was designed to give the stunt authenticity, not cause harm.

Possible targets

Mr Sarwar said he made a trip to Wales in April 2006 and used a false name to buy hydrogen peroxide from a laboratory supplier.

By July that year, he said he and Mr Ali had been keen to advance their plan, so he made a second trip to buy more.

Mr Sarwar said he hid the highly volatile chemical in King's Wood, High Wycombe, but later could not locate it.

Accused plotter Abdulla Ahmed Ali
Abdulla Ahmed Ali insists he did not want to harm anyone

Mr Sarwar also told the jury that during a trip to Pakistan between mid-June and early July 2006, he met a contact who told him how to make a highly explosive chemical compound called HMTD and he made a note of it.

He also described how he used the internet to research possible targets for the device, including the Houses of Parliament and Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Birmingham airports.

And he told the court he purchased three voice disguisers.

He said he and Mr Ali planned to contact police after the device was detonated to claim that al-Qaeda had been responsible.

They also planned "to say other devices were planted to cause more panic and alarm to get the most mass media attention", Mr Sarwar said.


On Monday, Mr Sarwar told the court he had never been involved in a plan to blow up aircraft.

He said he believed that suicide bombers ended up "in hell fire" and called al-Qaeda "deviant".

Mr Sarwar and Mr Ali's co-defendants are Tanvir Hussain, 27, of Leyton, east London, Waheed Zaman, 24, and Arafat Waheed Khan, 27, both of Walthamstow, east London.

Also charged are Mohammed Gulzar, 26, of Barking, east London, Ibrahim Savant, 27, of Stoke Newington, north London, and Umar Islam, 30, of Plaistow, east London.

All eight deny two joint charges of conspiring to murder and to endanger aircraft.

The trial continues.

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